PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — Pasadena police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the killing of Mickey Cooper, the brother of Lakers legend Michael Cooper.
Officers arrested Aaron Miguel Conell, 24, of Pasadena, less than a day after Mickey Cooper’s body was found at Pasadena’s Washington Park.
They say Conell was initially booked and held on an unrelated charge, assault with a firearm, as detectives continued the investigation. They were able to obtain more evidence and on Monday added murder to his booking charge.
No motive or narrative of events leading to the killing have been provided at this point.
‘Didn’t bother anybody’
Growing up in Pasadena as the younger brother of a soon-to-be celebrated athlete, Mickey Cooper lived a quiet, but sometimes troubled life.
The brothers used to play basketball at the same park where Mickey was killed.
“We lived 10 houses down (from) here,” Michael Cooper told Eyewitness News. “This is a park where we grew up playing. That’s why he felt comfortable and safe here.”
When he heard about his brother’s shooting, Michael says he couldn’t understand why anybody would want to hurt Mickey.
“He just went about his life, didn’t bother anybody, loved everybody. For somebody to come take his life, that nobody loved him? He was loved by a lot of people.”
Michael Cooper played for the Lakers during the Showtime era of the 1980s, winning five championships with the franchise. After his playing career ended, he served in various coaching positions, including helping lead the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks to two titles. He also currently contributes to ABC7 basketball coverage as an analyst.
Michael says his 64-year-old brother battled drug addiction for several years.
“We tried to help him all through this process. And he chose to live this life, but that doesn’t mean that somebody can come take his life,” Cooper said.
Mickey’s body was found at the park around 4 a.m. Saturday when the police department’s ShotSpotter system detected gunfire in the area. Officers found Mickey there unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives say they were able to identify Conell as a “person of interest” within only a few hours of the homicide.
They considered their potential suspect dangerous and called in for help.
“Believing this person posed an immediate threat to the public, detectives coordinated an arrest operation with members of the US Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Taskforce, PPD SWAT, and PPD K-9 Unit,” the department wrote in a press statement.
Conell was arrested without incident on the assault charge shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday, according to jail records – only about 17 hours after Mickey’s body was discovered.
Records indicate he was being held on $2 million bail.
Another shooting was reported at the same park last month under similar circumstances – discovered around 2 a.m. when the ShotSpotter detected possible gunfire. There’s no indication at this time that the two incidents are related. But police say they have been providing extra security around the park.